With many teens and young adults spending more time alone, the vulnerability to gaming problems is increasing. Moreover, young people are experiencing more isolation and boredom and less connection. For some, much less competition through sports is occurring. As one person put it, “COVID-19 is the gasoline on the gaming fire.”
Even if money or micro-transactions (skins, loot boxes, etc.) are involved, the desire to play is not just about the money or the rewards. The brain is flooded with dopamine when a young person is expecting a win. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has several roles in the brain, for instance, to increase pleasure. Developing brains of those under 25 years old are much more vulnerable to the effects of dopamine.
Recently the World Health Organization determined Gaming Disorder as an official diagnosis, as is Gambling Disorder.
Gambling Disorder and Gaming Disorder share many of the same criteria:
- “Using” to escape
- Inability to cut back or quit
- Chasing losses
- Lying or concealing
- Risking or losing relationships
Above all, being aware of these warning signs and monitoring the sites family or friends are accessing helps prevent gambling or gaming from becoming a problem. If you have concerns for you or a loved one, call our Behavioral Health & Treatment Services at 641-683-6747.